COLEMAN – Donovan Salewski collected toy tractors as a kid.
The Coleman senior’s favorites were always the John Deere models.
“I actually still have every single one of them at home, and I do play with them from time to time,” he said.
Salewski doesn’t plan on playing around in the upcoming weeks, though.
The big green machine for the Cougars is focused on taking care of business in order to collect some state hardware.
Salewski enters the wrestling postseason ranked No. 1 in Division 3 at 285 pounds by WIWrestling.com and is looking to redeem himself after falling short of the WIAA individual state tournament last year.
The three-sport athlete is also aiming to help Coleman advance to team state for a 14th time.
The M&O Conference lineman of the year has been a part of conference championship teams in football, wrestling and baseball. The 6-foot-4 standout is on pace to earn 12 varsity letters by the end of his prep career.
Salewski discusses sports, his name and his dream business in this week’s Senior Spotlight.
How motivated are you to get to individual state after not qualifying last year?
It’s still in the back of my mind every day I step out on the mat. It was terrible. It was the worst feeling I ever felt in my life because I knew I was better than the guys that were down at state, and to fall short like that was heartbreaking. It really was.
What do you like most about wrestling?
It’s all you and no one else. If you don’t put in the time and effort to wrestle and practice hard, you’re not going to have good results out on the mat. Football, you can slack off every now and then and still be on a good team and still kick somebody’s butt. But if you slack off in wrestling against a decent opponent, you’re pretty much screwed. You’re not going to come out a champion.
You’re planning to major in business at St. Norbert College. What’s your dream job?
I’ve always wanted to start my own business up in Coleman here, like start a bowling alley or a place for high school kids to hang out and be able to get something to eat before their sporting events or hang out after their sporting events because we don’t really have a whole lot up here. That’s kind of been my dream for the past couple of years.
You were named after former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb. What’s the story behind that?
McNabb was going through college, and at the end of his career he was really excelling (at Syracuse). My dad watched a lot of college football back then. He was in the hospital watching one of the games and thought Donovan would be a really cool name, so that’s how I ended up getting it.
Did you ever get the opportunity to play quarterback?
I did, actually. My sixth- and fifth-grade years in Pop Warner football. We had an all-star team kind of. I used to be quarterback and was pretty good.
What’s it mean to be successful in three sports?
It means a lot to me to know I’m creating history in the record books for Coleman. It makes me proud to know that when my kids are growing up they’ll be able to look back and say, ‘Look what my dad did.’ It makes me feel proud to know that I’m a part of something so special here at Coleman.
What’s one of your earliest sports memories?
It was actually from when I first started wrestling. My dad took me to a tournament. He’s actually got pictures of me starting the match and lifting my leg so the kid could take me down. I was smiling the entire time because I was new to it and didn’t know exactly what to do. I always get a chuckle out of that when I see the picture.
What’s your most embarrassing sports moment?
Probably not making weight my senior year in my very first match. It was at the Pulaski Duals that we always go to. It was really frustrating because I was cutting weight by quite a bit from football season, so it was really frustrating to know that I didn’t meet my goal to be down for my first dual meet of the year. But after a while coach came up to me and said since you didn’t make weight here, you can wrestle up at Wabeno, where we usually just send our JV guys. I ended up wrestling up there and it was actually nice because I got back at Tyson Sommer from Athens.
What’s your favorite sports moment?
Junior year when we beat Almond-Bancroft in the (football quarterfinals). I had a huge game that day. I recovered a fumble at the 3-yard line. I made some stops defensively. I helped block for the guys on a fourth-and-2 when we ended up getting a first down, so that was a really memorable game for me.
Have you ever taken a selfie with the wrestling statue across the road from your school?
No, I’ve never taken a selfie with it. But now that you mentioned it, I probably will.
I don’t see a lot of schools that have mascots at games anymore. How did your school end up with two at its football games last season?
They were actually both freshmen this year. They were both girls, one of them being my sister. It was different because you don’t see it very often, but it was also kind of cool at the same time.
If you were to line up alongside Josh Pillath, most people would assume you’re the state place-winning discus thrower and not him. How often is his strength overlooked by opponents?
It’s awesome to see a classmate excel as much as he does. In football, you’d never think lining up across from him he would be anything just from how tall he is. But I tell you, he can pack on some hits. Wrestling, he pulls it out every time. I don’t know how he does it, but he does.
Which teammate would you bring on a roller coaster?
Josh Pillath. I don’t particularly like roller coasters, but I know if I went with him he’d make it a blast because he’s a pretty funny guy to be around.
Who on the team could survive on a deserted island?
Gunnar Patz, because he’s an outdoorsman and really likes what he does outdoors.
Which teammate is the most likely to be afraid of a spider?
Cade Klimek. I know he’s definitely afraid of snakes, so I have a feeling spiders wouldn’t be his thing either.
Who on the team would you entrust with a pet?
Caleb Gross. He likes animals, and I know he would do pretty well with a dog or any one of my pets.
Which teammate should have their own reality TV show?
Koltin Grzybowski, because he’s always doing some pretty funny stuff to make me and the whole team laugh. I think he would be a pretty funny guy to have as a TV host or even run his own TV show.
Who can eat the most on the team?
Jordan Blanchard. I remember at team state when we won it my freshman year I think he wrestled at 113 (pounds) that year and I’m pretty sure he was like at 135 before the night was over.
What does your team need to do to advance to state?
A lot of smart wrestling, getting the points where you can and getting the bonus points where you can and not getting pinned. That’s going to be the biggest key.
What are you going to miss most about high school?
Seeing my friends every day. I know everyone pretty much in the entire high school. I know in a lot of bigger schools you might only truly get to know 30 people in your entire grade. Here, you’re close to pretty much everyone in your graduating class. It’s pretty nice because you always have someone to go to if you’re having troubles or need help with something.
TV show: “North Woods Law.”
Movie: “Harry Potter.”
Childhood toy: John Deere tractors.
Athlete: Donovan McNabb.
“Donovan is an all-around great kid. He’s a great athlete. For a heavyweight, he’s got all the tools to be everything you want. He’s got great balance and moves real well on his feet. He’s a smart kid, so those are all good intangibles that bode well for heavyweights.”
— Coleman wrestling coach Kevin Casper
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